Dating Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials with Chinese Coins

Originally published in Datum. Newsletter of the heritage Conservation Branch. Ministry of Recreation and Conservation. 1978. 3:2:3-5. By Grant Keddie.  1978. Introduction Early Chinese coins have been used occasionally to date historic burials or associated historical assemblages as well as being used as proof of a pre-contact circum-Pacific movement of trade goods or of proof of actual visitations by early Chinese explorers. By utilizing the di­rect historic approach it becomes evident that we must exercise caution in using Chinese coins as chronological indica­tors. I first became aware of the need to examine the reliability of dating with Chinese coins when trying to date a his­toric burial intrusion at the archaeological site DhRx 6 on Newcastle Island near Nanaimo. B.C. A … Continue reading “Dating Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials with Chinese Coins”

Victoria’s Chinese Immigrant Fishermen

By Grant Keddie. August 2013. Introduction A little known history of 19th century British Columbia was the creation of an early commercial fishing industry by Chinese immigrant fishermen. In 1861, Chinese fishermen began using fine meshed nets to catch large quantities of herring, flounder, anchovy and trout in Victoria’s inner waterway. These fish were salted and dried for shipment to Barkerville and other mining areas of the Interior, where they retailed at 40 to 50 cents per pound. The salting and drying took place in Victoria’s upper harbour at the north end of Store Street on the banks of Rock Bay. On April 11, of 1861 the Colonist newspaper reports: “These fish are esteemed a great luxury by the Chinese … Continue reading “Victoria’s Chinese Immigrant Fishermen”

Japanese Shipwrecks

By Grant Keddie. August 2013. Japanese Shipwrecks in British Columbia – Myths and Facts The Question of Cultural Exchanges with the Northwest Coast of America.  Arguments have been presented by Quimby (1989; 1985; 1948) and other proponents going back 135 years ago (Anderson 1863) that Aboriginal Cultures of the Northwest Coast have been strongly influenced by the effects of Japanese shipwrecks. If iron from Japanese ships was available on a regular basis and ship survivors introduced even the occasional new idea – such as the development of a new fish net technology with a pronounced higher efficiency than pre-existing technology – the influence on aboriginal cultural may have been substantial. Determining the past existence and frequency of the landing of … Continue reading “Japanese Shipwrecks”

The Importation of old Chinese Coins for the Playing of Fan Tan
Gambling Games in British Columbia.

By Grant Keddie. 26-11-15. Introduction Chinese brass one cash coins were imported to British Columbia in the late 19th and early 20 century to be used as counter pieces in the gambling games of Fan Tan. The coin packages are now extremely rare and have never been described in print. In 1981, I purchased an unopened package of 280 Chinese brass one cash coins and a partially filled bag of coins from an opened package from Len Jenner of Courtenay. Mr Jenner purchased the coins along with a large collection of Chinese cultural items from an elder Chinese man, known only as “Mr Lowe”. Mr Lowe had once lived on northern Vancouver Island, but the collection was purchased when he … Continue reading “The Importation of old Chinese Coins for the Playing of Fan Tan
Gambling Games in British Columbia.”

Review of: An Archaeology of Asian Transnationalism. By Douglas E. Ross

By Grant Keddie Book Review of: An Archaeology of Asian Transnationalism. By Douglas E. Ross. Gainesville, FL, University Press of Florida, 2913. 245 pp. $103.95 cloth. In: B.C. Studies, Winter 2015/16, pp. 123-124. Although descriptive work on historic artefacts of Asian origin has been sporadically produced by American archaeologists since the 1960s, and by BC archaeologists since the 1970s, recent years have seen Asian archaeology in North America blossoming into a more humanities informed scholarship. By subjecting archaeological finds to historical (written and oral) documentation and to the analytical writing on diaspora and Transnationalism, Douglas Ross, in An Archaeology of Asian Transnationalism, develops a useful model for understanding historical Asian archaeology in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century British Columbia. Ross’s … Continue reading “Review of: An Archaeology of Asian Transnationalism. By Douglas E. Ross”

A Chinese Coin to raise Canadian Dollars.

By Grant Keddie I was walking along a back lane in Edmonton, Alberta one day at the age of ten, when I noticed that the McLaughlin’s garbage can was knocked over. Spilled on the ground were three coins, two 19th century French and Portuguese coins and a Chinese brass, one cash piece with a square hole in the centre. I kept these coins, and later because of an interest in Chinese history, I took a special interest in collecting Chinese coins. When I searched further through the garbage can I found a signed blank check for fifty dollars. My mother suggested I should take the check back and to stop searching through garbage cans. Dorothy McLaughlin gave me 25 cents … Continue reading “A Chinese Coin to raise Canadian Dollars.”

The Question of Asiatic Objects on the North Pacific Coast of America: Historic or Prehistoric?

Originally Published in Contributions to Human History, 3. Royal British Columbia Museum. Grant Keddie May 1989 Abstract: Claims have been made that Native Indian cultures of the North Pacific coast of North America have been influenced by prehistoric contact with advanced cultures of China. Purported evidence has focused on the finding of ancient Chinese coins as well as literary references to early voyages and shipwrecks. These claims are dealt with in the context of examining the nature of the diffusion of Asiatic objects around the North Pacific Rim. Historic, protohistoric, and prehistoric events relevant to the interpretation of the evidence are discussed. Key Index Words: Alaska, archaeology, Asiatic, British Columbia, Chinese, coins, copper, diffusion, Fou sang, Huishen, iron, Japanese, North … Continue reading “The Question of Asiatic Objects on the North Pacific Coast of America: Historic or Prehistoric?”

The Rocks of Harling Point

Originally published in Discovery, 19(1). Winter 1991. By Grant Keddie One of the most fascinating places to visit on southern Vancouver Island is Harling Point in the Victoria municipality of Oak Bay between Gonzales Bay and McNeill Bay. Many people go to Harling Point to see the Chinese cemetery. You can walk up to the large concrete cremation pillars and altar and see where, in the early 1900s, relatives placed food and burned colourful rice-paper offerings for the dead. The Chinese traditionally choose locations for important cultural activities, such as burials, that are in harmony with nature by following the practice of feng-shui. In Western terms, this is geomancy, the selection of particular sites of land whose inherent qualities are … Continue reading “The Rocks of Harling Point”